It's all well and good to install magnetic separators to help protect your product from metal contamination...but failing to frequently monitor & clean your magnets can have some less-than-ideal consequences!
Here are 3 reasons your team should frequently monitor and clean your magnetic separators:
1. To reduce risk of recontamination and 'shorting-out.'
Shorting-out occurs when all of the magnets force is used up by holding collected fragments to its surface. This is a huge problem as it means the magnet is less likely to attract and retain any other metal fragments that pass by. It also leaves collected fragments at high risk of dropping off and recontamination of the product stream!
Frequent cleaning of your magnets will help ensure your magnet performance is maximized.
Tip: Set up a cleaning schedule for each of the magnets in your processing plant and make sure it is implemented!
2. To establish the 'normal contamination level.'
Every food processing plant has different processes and uses different ingredients, so there is no universal 'normal contamination level' - each plant must establish this individually.
A normal contamination level can be influenced by factors such as the level of contamination in your suppliers' ingredients, or even the location in the plant! Incoming ingredients locations will typically have a higher contamination level than mid-final processing locations.
It may take some time to collect adequate data, but by establishing the acceptable normal contamination level for each magnet in your plant, and recording the level/type of collected fragments, you will be quickly notified of any abnormal 'spikes!'
Such spikes may occur if your suppliers have slipped up in their metal fragment control or it could mean there is a problem with upstream processing equipment. Quick and early notification of unusual wear or breakage of processing equipment will allow your team to swiftly act and rectify the issue before it causes any major problems such as production loss, contamination of final product, and product wastage.
Tip: To save downtime, you can check this at the same time as the cleaning schedule in Step 1. Set up a document that your plant operators must complete each cleaning schedule, including date & time of clean, level/type of fragments collected, and an observation column for any other notes. Contact our team if you would like some help setting this up!
3. To alert of any damage to the magnets which may be a sign of a larger problem.
Magnets are not invincible. If not properly looked after, damage to the magnets can trigger demagnetization. Visual signs of this would include dents, large scratches, or other damage to the surface of the magnets. Internal strength tests using either a gauss meter or pull test kit can also alert to loss of strength (note: these internal tests should not replace the annual tests & reports carried out by certified magnet testing organizations such as AMR Consulting).
Tip: Record any notes of magnet wear in the observation column of the cleaning schedule document.
Download our whitepaper here on the causes of demagnetization and how you can reduce the risks.
Important: if you notice damage deep enough to expose the internal magnet elements or if strength suddenly declines at an abnormal rate, contact a reputable magnetic separator manufacturer immediately. Such damage can pose a high risk to food safety.
Following these steps to frequently clean and monitor your magnetic separators will greatly assist your team in maintaining metal fragment control and the safety of your final food product!
If you have any questions, contact our team - we're here to help!